(July 17, 2007/ Colombo, Sri Lanka) Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha, former Interim Chairperson of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats, has been appointed Secretary General of SCOPP, the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process in Sri Lanka. Prof. Wijesinha is a former leader of the Liberal Party of Sri Lanka and a Vice-President of Liberal International. He is a leading liberal theoretician in South Asia, and has conducted workshops on liberalism in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan and Indonesia.
The Peace Secretariat was established when a Ceasefire Agreeement was signed in 2002 between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The Tigers withdrew from peace talks in 2003, and only returned in 2006, shortly after the election of President Mahinda Rajapakse. Though they have subsequently withdrawn again, and hostilities have resumed, the CFA is still in operation according to both parties.
In such a context Prof. Wijesinha believes that the peace secretariat can play a vital role in strengthening the prospects of a lasting peace in Sri Lanka, based on fundamental principles of a liberal democracy such as pluralism, rule of law, transparency and accountability. He believes that such principles need to be adhered to in process and affirmed in resolution. More specifically, the mission of the Secretariat, according to Prof. Wijesinha, is to develop confidence in the process while being recognized as an institution that is equitable and acting in the national interest of all Sri Lankans.
Amongst the measures the Secretariat has recently introduced are:
1. Community Development organizations in the affected Provinces including community representatives and NGOs operating in the area and local chambers of commerce; 2. A report on Post CFA Human Rights violations with particular reference to children; 3. A steering group to look at “Confidence Building Measures through Constitutional Reform”, to suggest areas in which consensus might be relatively easily obtained; 4. Links with the Muslim Peace Secretariat and attempts to renew links with the LTTE Peace Secretariat is desirable; 5. Regular meetings with the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission followed by joint press releases; 6. Proposals to broad base membership of the public services and the armed forces and in particular the police to increase minority representation; 7. Monitoring of all media reports to check on incidents likely to disrupt the peace process.
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This post was written by CALD